This blog post is actually a combined one that I (Aviva) did with my teaching partner, Gina Bucciacchio (@_missginab). It’s a note that we published on the first page of our March Newsletter for parents, but then we thought about sharing it here, so that people can offer their feedback as well. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the changes to our program!
Aviva and Gina
As the year continues to progress, we continue to relook at what we’re doing in the classroom, and think of ways to make our program even better. When working with small groups of students during guided reading and writing activities, we noticed that many students need even more opportunities to practice writing using different forms, carry-over their learning about conventions (i.e., punctuation and spelling) into their everyday writing, expand on their ideas in their writing, pre-plan more before writing, reflect more on what they read, and consistently use a combination of their own ideas and information from the text when answering questions about their reading. Based on student needs, we decided to make a change to our literacy centre and guided reading routine.
We’re now doing Genius Hour for literacy centres. You can read more about Genius Hour here. Students are really enjoying reading, researching, and writing about their passions, and we’re able to then use writing topics or reading comprehension topics and various materials (from non-fiction books to newspaper articles to computer websites) for our guided reading and guided writing sessions. More frequent one-to-one and small group intervention also increases the amount of immediate feedback that we can give to students (both orally and in writing), which John Hattie notes is important for student success.
Our PA Day session on February 15th (more specifically, the information that we learned from John Hattie’s video), definitely helped convince us that this change is a good one.
Genius Hour also aligns with our current TLCP on point of view and reading for meaning. More of these links are noted in our Curriculum Topics Chart at the end of this newsletter. It is also with our TLCP and student needs in mind that we’ve decided to make a change to our Writing Program. Three days a week (one period a day), students will be working through a Writing EQAO question in class. On the first day, they’ll complete the organizer, on the second day, they’ll do their rough draft, and on the third day, they’ll use the editing checklist to revise their work. We’ll do full class and small group writing mini-lessons in class that help students with areas of difficulty that we continue to notice, such as proper paragraphing, sentence variety, conventions (i.e., spelling and punctuation), and expanding on ideas. We think that this addition to our program will definitely help students improve their writing skills.
Our final change is one to our Multiple Choice Mondays routine. Since we know that many students need to continue to work on their reading comprehension skills, every other week, we’re going to do a reading comprehension activity for Multiple Choice Mondays. Students will work in partners to read one of the EQAO Reading Comprehension Texts, and we’ll give them a Level 2 or Level 3 short answer response from the marking guide. Students will then use their own ideas and the feedback on the answer to “bump up” this work. We’ll explore our student responses in class and provide feedback to the students that they can use when writing their own answers as well. We’ll then tweet out the multiple choice questions that align with the text, and students will work in partner groups to answer these questions, citing specific information from the text to support their answers. This activity also aligns with our current TLCP.
What do you think of these changes? What other suggestions do you have as we work on improving reading and writing skills? Hopefully parents, educators, and administrators will all chime in with their thoughts. We’d love to hear them!
Aviva and Gina